Church of Wells/YMBBA Ministries

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10/19/2014 12:28 pm  #81

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

Dr. Phil: "Are My Children in a Cult?"


10/25/2014 12:17 pm  #82

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers


Born: September 10, 1965
Died: June 18, 1983 (aged 17)
Shiraz, Iran
Nationality: Iranian
Execution for membership in the Bahá'í Faith

Notes for a paper she wrote for school. The paper was turned over to authorities.

"'Freedom'  is the most brilliant word among the radiant words existing in the world. Man has always been and will ever be asking for liberty. Why, then, has he been deprived of liberty? Why from the beginning of man's life has there been no freedom? Always, there have been powerful and unjust individuals who for the sake of their own interests have resorted to all kinds of oppression and tyranny...

Why don't you let me be free to express our goals in this community; to say who I am and what I want, and to reveal my religion to others? Why don't you give me freedom of speech so that I may write for publication or talk on radio and television about my ideas? Yes, liberty is a Divine gift, and this gift is for us also, but you don't let us have it. Why don't you let me speak freely as a Baha'i individual? Why don't you want to know that a new religion has been revealed; that a new radiant star has risen? Why don't you push aside that thick veil from your eyes?

Perhaps you don't really think that I should have freedom. God has granted this freedom to man. You, his servant, cannot take it from me. God has given me freedom of speech. Therefore, I cry out and say, "His Holiness Baha'u'llah is the Truth!" God has given me freedom of speech. Therefore, in clear words, I write, "Baha'u'llah is the One whom God has made manifest! He is the founder of the Baha'i religion and His Book is the Mother of Books..."

©Baha'i Canada Publications



11/12/2014 8:46 pm  #83

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

CMAJ. Aug 9, 2011; 183(11): E709–E710.                               PMCID: PMC3153535
doi:  10.1503/cmaj.109-3944

United States still too lenient on “faith healing” parents, say children’s rights advocates

Wendy Glauser
 © 1995-2011, Canadian Medical Association

Two parents in Oregon who refused to seek treatment for their infant daughter’s tumour on religious grounds were recently sentenced to jail time, but advocates for children’s medical rights remain concerned about the leniency the justice system shows to “faith healing” families in some areas of the United States.

Timothy Wyland, 44, and Rebecca Wyland, 23, of Oregon City were found guilty of criminal mistreatment for allowing their 18-month-old daughter’s hemangioma, an abnormal proliferation of blood vessels, to grow into a golf ball-sized tumour that covered one eye. They were sentenced to three months in jail on June 24. Rather than seek medical care for their daughter, the Wylands, members of the Followers of Christ Church, relied on prayer, oil anointment and the “laying on of hands.”

Dr. Seth Asser, a Rhode Island pediatrician, argues that lawmakers and judges often fail to recognize the dangers of faith healing. “Children who have died in these cases suffer seizures, vomiting,” he says. “Their deaths are agonizing, slow and extremely painful.”

An investigation led by Asser published in Pediatrics found that between 1975 and 1995, 172 children died following faith healing, 140 from easily curable or treatable medical conditions (Pediatrics 1998;101:625–9). In one case, a two-year-old girl choked on a banana and showed signs of life for an hour before dying, while her parents and other adults simply prayed.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, most states had faith healing exemptions in their child abuse and neglect laws. Nineteen states still allow religious defences for felony crimes against children.

Canada, by contrast, does not have religious exemptions to criminal charges such as neglect. However, while children of Jehovah’s Witnesses have died as a result of parents’ refusals to approve blood transfusions, the deaths often occur during the time it takes doctors to prove to the courts that transfusions are medically necessary.

Still, despite the leniency toward faith healing shown by US courts, the number of children dying from medical neglect because of religious beliefs appears to be “going down gradually,” says Asser. This is partly due to Children’s Healthcare is a Legal Duty (CHILD), an organization that lobbies states to repeal protections in criminal codes that implicitly condone faith healing.

In May, Oregon’s senate passed a law repealing exemptions in its criminal code that allowed faith healing to be used as a defence in crimes such as homicide and neglect.

John Clague, a spokesman for the Christian Science church in Oregon, said he supported the new law because of the high number of child deaths in the Followers of Christ Church. When asked about the 28 deceased Christian Science children in the Pediatrics investigation, he lamented their deaths, saying that “unlike some other churches, we don’t say these deaths are God’s will.” He claimed his church leaders expect their followers to seek medical care for their children when faith healing “isn’t working” or in situations where a child may die for lack of care.

But the Christian Science church “continues to support religious accommodations for the responsible practice of spiritual healing,” says Adam Scherr, the church’s national media coordinator.

None of the parents implicated in recent Followers of Christ Church faith healing deaths in Oregon were reachable for comment and defence attorneys for the Wylands did not respond to repeated phone messages. However, a man who answered the phone at the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City said he staunchly believed faith healing works, in part because “my mother is going on 95 and my grandparents lived well into their eighties.”

While arguing deaths of children in his community were “the divine will of God” and saying “one just died the other day, from sepsis, I think,” the man, who refused to give his name, also wanted to make it clear that his church does not force parents to avoid doctors. “That’s up to them if they want to take their children to a doctor.”

But some leaders of religious sects tend to have different messaging for the general public than for members, according to CHILD founder Rita Swan, who lost her 16-month-old son to spinal meningitis in 1977 after being pressured by fellow members of a Christian Science church to eschew medical care for faith. Horror stories are often spread about medical treatment, she says, while faith healing miracles receive much attention.

Given this context, lawmakers in favour of religious defences argue that parents making what they believe are the best decisions for their children’s health shouldn’t be treated as criminals. Swan argues, however, that when criminal laws apply to everyone equally, parents in churches practising faith healing have an “excuse” to visit doctors. “If the law plainly tells them that they must get children to a doctor, I think that’s much easier, and on one level they’re relieved,” says Swan.

According to Dr. Jim Lace, an Oregon pediatrician who lobbied against legal exemptions for faith healing, medical neglect is more likely to be reported when there are no religious exceptions. Some citizens erroneously think that child protection services can’t intervene in faith healing cases because of “confusion around the laws,” he says.

Likewise, Asser argues that faith healing parents should be treated the same way as anyone else who neglects a child. “If you or I get drunk and pass out and a child dies as a result, we go to jail, but if a child dies of a preventable medical issue because of these parents’ own form of being stoned on religion, they’re not held liable.”


12/13/2014 1:11 am  #84

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

So what's so bad about Teen Challenge?

Church of Wells member testimony includes a lifetime of Teen Challenge. Life-saving ministry or 'Jesus Gulag'?

A nine-part investigative reporting series on the organization (April 2008):

The Assemblies' own "kiddie gulag"   
Coercive groups disguised as rehab  
A typical week in the "Jesus Gulag"
Life within the "Jesus Gulag"
Possible missionary mill?
Teen Challenge: The depths of coercion at a "God Warrior" training camp
Sex abuse and sexual predators
Court-ordered coercion and CYA indemnity contracts
Your tax dollars, paying for institutionalised abuse



12/18/2014 2:45 pm  #85

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

CultureWatch   │  Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day…

Cults and Amazing Grace

I don’t know about other newspapers, but in the Melbourne Herald Sun there have been some quarter-page ads placed lately with the banner headline, “He was right!” So who is he and what was he right about?

The ‘he’ in question is one Herbert W. Armstrong. And it seems that he was right in his predictions about the current global financial crisis. The ad informs us that his ‘prophesies’ uttered decades ago are now coming to pass. The ad urges interested readers to subscribe to the Trumpet magazine to learn about more prophecies soon to be fulfilled, including “nuclear WWIII”.

So what is going on here? In one sense, nothing much: just another cult making wild claims and seeking to suck people into its orb. But there is another important part to this story – but more on that in a moment.

If you happen to be getting a bit old like I am, or if you lived in the US especially, then the name Herbert W. Armstrong should sound familiar. He was the founder of the cult, The Worldwide Church of God (WCG). And his magazine, The Plain Truth, was also fairly widely known, along with his radio and television programs, The World Tomorrow.

Here is a quick background to the group. Armstrong, a former advertising and marketing man, began the WCG in the mid-1930s. His beliefs were syncretistic, but typical of so many recent Christian cults that arose at this time, or a bit sooner. All the basic doctrines of historic, biblical Christianity were denied or distorted.

He denied the doctrine of the Trinity, and claimed that there were a family of Gods. There was God the father, and also God the son (although Jesus only became God after his death). And his followers can enter into the family of God as well. Thus there can be numerous Gods, and his followers can become divine.

His view of salvation was equally cultic; he believed that total obedience to the Old Testament laws was required, including the dietary regulations for Israel, and so on. Seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath keeping was vitally important as well. There could be no salvation without these works of obedience to laws and regulations.

Especially bizarre was his teaching on British-Israelism, or Anglo-Israelism. Although not original to him, this doctrine taught that white Anglo-Saxons today are direct descendents of the so-called ten lost tribes of Israel (the Jews are descendents of the 2 tribes of Judah). Thus America and England, for example, are the special places where God is at work. Thus Anglo-Saxons are the new chosen people of God, just as Israel once was.

Another common feature of the cults is the belief that one’s own particular church or sect is the one true church of God, and that all other groups are apostates and Satanic counterfeits. Thus WCG members were to have absolutely no dealings with any other group calling themselves Christian.

Herbert W. Armstrong, like many cultists, claimed that he was the final true voice of Christ – he was the one true prophet of the one true church.. He claimed that the true teachings of Jesus were abandoned in A.D. 53, and the true gospel therefore was not preached for all those centuries, until God raised up Herbert W. Armstrong to once again proclaim the truth.

(Whenever you hear someone claim that God has raised him up ‘in these last days’ to proclaim the truth that has been lost or distorted for centuries – be it Muhammad, or Joseph Smith, or Charles Taze Russell, or Mary Baker Eddy, etc. – we need to stand up and take notice. Alarm bells should go off when people make such grandiose claims about themselves, fully in opposition to the claims of Christ and the New Testament.)

Also like other cult leaders, he made various prophecies about end time events, which invariably proved to be false prophecies. For example, he predicted that in 1972 his particular church (the only true church), would be raptured and removed to Petra. It of course failed to happen, as did his many other date-setting prophecies.

Thus this was a typical cult, which had a lot of influence. Although church membership was never all that large (peaking at around 150,000 members in the 1980’s) his radio, TV and magazine ministries were quite popular and widespread. At its height, the circulation of his magazine The Plain Truth topped 8 million copies. The World Tomorrow was heard by millions in America and overseas.

A large, modern college campus was opened in Pasadena, California in 1947, with others to follow. His popular, handsome and charismatic son Garner Ted Armstrong looked to continue the mission of the church. However, he fell from grace for various reasons (sexual sin and liberalising theology) and was disfellowshiped in 1978. He went on to open his own church, The Church of God International.

Toward the end of his life Herbert W. Armstrong had new “revelations” that allowed him to make some minor doctrinal and behaviour changes. For example, women were now allowed to use makeup, and restrictions on certain types of clothing were relaxed somewhat.

One important change involved the use of doctors and medicine. Armstrong had taught that true believers should rely only on faith, not medicine. Believers should depend only on divine healing. To use doctors and medicine was deemed idolatrous and a sign of lack of faith. But toward the end of his life – as he experienced more and more health problems – he changed his views, conveniently. He now said one could visit a doctor and not be living in sin and unbelief.

Amazing Grace

But something happened around 15 years ago that occurs very rarely, if ever. A group that was clearly cultic shed its heresy and embraced orthodoxy. This remarkable transformation has resulted in the group now being a fully orthodox and evangelical Christian church.

The story has been written up in several books and numerous articles. One book isTransformed by Truth by Joseph Tkach. He is a significant player here, because his father, Joseph Tkach Snr was Armstrong’s hand-picked successor.

Armstrong died in 1986. As mentioned, minor changes had already been taking place. But the church under Tkach’s leadership began to look more closely at other doctrinal matters, and ask hard questions in the light of the Bible.

While it did not occur overnight, a slow but certain realisation emerged that not everything taught by Armstrong was kosher. A landmark sermon preached by Tkach late in 1994 showed decisively that a real, profound and permanent change had taken place. Numerous heretical and mistaken doctrines were jettisoned by the WCG, and its members moved into alignment with evangelical orthodoxy.

Of course such momentous changes are always costly. Many people within the church strongly resisted the changes, accusing the reformers of apostasy and betrayal. Many splits occurred, with many groups claiming to be the true heirs of Armstrong. Many members fell away from faith altogether, and many other members joined more traditional churches.

Thus at the time of writing of this book (1997), the church itself had shrunk greatly in number and ministry. Publications were stopped, colleges closed, and many media efforts were curtailed. But the change was a genuine one, so much so that by May 1997 the WCG was admitted into the membership of the National Association of Evangelicals.

This is an incredible story. Very rarely in church history do we find examples of churches or groups clearly into heresy and deception moving out of that into the truth of the biblical gospel. Satanic deception is real, as is the ability of self-deception. It takes humility, boldness and an overriding love of truth and dependence on Scripture to both stay free from theological error, and/or to break free from it.

Some cults of course either self-destruct or are violently ended (as in the Jonestown and Branch Davidian cults). Others continue in their deception. Thus many splinter groups from the original WCG continue today. That is why the ads in the Herald Sun have been appearing lately. Obviously this is a splinter group which comprises those who still consider themselves to be true believers in Herbert W. Armstrong and his theology.

But the good news is, God is able to help those who are really seeking after the truth to be set free from deception and false teaching. God rewards the diligent seeker, and the transformation of the WCG is one wonderful example of this. The enemy is clever and powerful, but God is greater, and truth always prevails in the end.


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